$199 Yamaha BB404F Review!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by tplyons, Apr 26, 2005.

  1. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    First of all, let me tell you how anxious I was to recieve this bass: I was checking UPS tracking EVERY hour or so to make sure it didn't stop. Knowing I'm already a grand in debt when I really don't need nor want to be, I dropped my Capital One card down on my desk and started typing digits. I placed the order telling myself that I can flip it for a profit if I don't like it, so it was harmless. I even toyed with the idea of buying a BB404, BB404F and a BB405 for the prices, but opted for just the fretless. I've got a phenominal four string in my Fender P and haven't used a five in years, so that could wait. I'll hold out for a Roscoe Beck V thank you.

    Well, the bass arrived about twenty minutes ago, I popped open the shipping container and was somewhat bummed to see it in the corner, only surrounded by packaging on two sides. Considering UPS is kinda rough around here, the package had a few considerable dents (thankfully on the far side from the bass) and I pulled out wads and wads of packing paper. In the bottom of the box is this tiny little triangular shaped box reading Yamaha, so I reach in and grab that little yellow strap.

    I lay the box on the floor, and smiled. Ran downstairs to grab the camera to take pictures for all of you guys, nearly broke my toe coming up frantically to try out the bass. The bass was neatly packaged, though it was the first time I'd ever opened the top of a box to see the bass laying face down wrapped in foam. I pulled it out, frantically ripped off the strings' anti-tarnish paper and it was considerably in tune. After fine tuning, I proceded to try some things out and noticed but one thing...incredible warmth and plenty of mwah. Considering the roundwounds, I was a bit skeptical to continue playing, but after fifteen minutes of playing, there was no noticable wear. I'm safe for now.

    On a bass that I paid $200 for, I expected cheap hardware, but was none but impressed. The quality of the no-name tuners was top notch as nothing rattled. The bridge was high mass, and considerably well built. Then there were the knobs, which looked a bit cheesy to me. Like Gibson speed knobs gone wrong, but much to my surprise, the knobs were very comfortable, and the pots were smooth, but not loose. Just the way I like them.

    I continued to flip the bass over, pull off the control cover, and was pleased to find a somewhat neat wiring job, with some excess wire, but not too much, but no shielding. It didn't matter, the bass was very quiet, and with the bridge soloed, hum was minimal. After rolling off the treble, the bridge pickup soloed, the beast was quiet but well spoken. With a hint of chorus, I felt I got a fairly quick and easy Jaco-esque sound with stock strings and pickups.

    As far as build quality, I haven't noticed a flaw yet. The neck is nice and chunky, and arrived straight. If anything I feared the neck would be thin and feel flimsy, but it turns out to be a wonderful match for my baseball bat vintage P-bass, though a bit narrower. The neck finish is minimal (think Ernie Ball Stingray) and smooth. The fingerboard edges were all the way to the end of the 24th fret, which is easilly accessible by the lower horn's deepset cutout. The neck pocket was tight and didn't budge at all.

    Although the stock action was a tad high for my taste, the only immediate replacement the bass needed was a set of straplocks (which in my house means it's a keeper) and at a tad bit over eight pounds, a thin Ernie Ball nylon strap is plenty to keep this sucker on my shoulder pain free. The bass is quite well balanced and offers no immediate flaws. The sound is great, the feel is supreme, and the bass in all leaves nothing to be desired. I would've bought this whether or not it was on clearance for $199 or regularly priced at $449. It's a very nice bass.
  2. Quadzilla

    Quadzilla Supporting Member

    Your welcome for the link to the bass man (just messen with ya). So far so good, let us know how she sounds and lets see those pics! :D
  3. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Pics coming soon man, thanks for the link after all, and as soon as the camera is finished charging, I'll get the pics posted!
  4. purfektstranger


    Apr 10, 2003
    Great review....it's nice to hear positive things about an extremely reasonably priced bass!
  5. lefty007


    Jan 19, 2004
    Miami, FL
    Hey tplyons, for a bass with that price (or any price, really), you should try to let go of the fear of wearing the neck with rounds. :rollno: Rounds sound great in fretless (like nobody knows that!) and you should not let the wearing keep you from playing the bass -- and putting flats in. Flats are great too but not nearly as expresive as rounds, especially in a fretless.

    BTW, I got me a lefty BB404 coming tomorrow or so (yeah) thanks for the review!!!

    My main fretless happens to be an '96 Yamaha RBX 350 that I had defretted. The rosewood fretboard is really thick and I guess good quality. I play it regulartly (and sometimes a lot, like at least 4 hours a week) and just now, after maybe 4 years is that the fretboard is developing buzzes here and there from wearing out the board with rounds. Mind you that the defret job was OK but not espectacular, so even when just-defretted still had minimal buzzes here and there.

    I quick trip to a tech (to level the board) will make new again.

    I would think that if you play fretless A LOT, it will requiere planning the board once a year max, and the board will need replacement (or a new neck) in at least 5 or 10 years.

    So come on man!, enjoy that sucker and play some rounds, would 'ya! :bassist:


    P.S What color did you get?
  6. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Hey lefty, I have let go of the fear of the rounds, though I'm going to stick to nickels instead of steels. Maybe some groundrounds or half rounds in my future. Worst case scenario is I beat the hell out of it in ten years or so, it's not bad for $20 a year.

    I'm lovin' every minute of it. And by the way, it was black. Pics coming soon.
  7. Ian Perge

    Ian Perge Supporting Member

    May 11, 2001
    Evansville, Indiana
    tplyons, you might also want to consider a "stabilizer" such as Watco's Teak Oil, which soaks into the fretboard and "solidifies" the open pores upon application but does not build up upon multiple coats. Unlike a poly coating, this doesn't effect/brighten the tone of the bass (at least, not to my ears) but does offer a good amount of protection against roundwound wear 'n tear (although like yourself, I'm using roundwounds Nickels as opposed to my traditional Steels. There's a fine line between "personal tone" and "just asking for trouble" :smug: )

    Much like yourself I jumped on a Yamaha clearance sale last year, picking up an RBX 775... and then a week later, a second to be defretted, I took to the tone, body design, spring spacing and other features so much that I couldn't pass it up at the price. Even though I didn't get around to defretting it until this past January (I wanted to do it as correctly as possible, researching various methods and consulting with various builders such as our own Hambone :D and using the proper tools, which were my birthday present) it turned out a very nice job if I do pat myself on the back, and with the application of the Teak Oil, I've left not so much as a mark on the board thusfar with at least an hour of playing every day since late January. As soon as all of my other basses need restringing, I'm going to apply a coating or two (on the fretless I did 8)... I'm that impressed with the product and the results. For a $6 pint at my local Loews, this very well may be the best improvement/cost ratio I've even done to a bass. :D

    Please feel free to drop me a PM if you have any more questions about the oil or application process.
  8. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    I'll check it out tomorrow. I work at a local hardware store, and as asst. Floor manager, it's my job to research the products, I'll just be sure to look at the Teak Oil very closely. Thanks for the heads up!
  9. lefty007


    Jan 19, 2004
    Miami, FL
    Nice! Yeap, I also use nickels.

    Likewise, I wouldn't put stainless steels.

    Buying a second Yamaha to be defretted. . . Man, scarred, that sounds like a really good idea . . . :help:
  10. rusty


    Mar 29, 2004
    I was waiting for this review!! Great stuff tplyons!! Nothing beats a great deal from a great value bass :D

    Congrats!! :bassist:
  11. moo_v_man


    Apr 26, 2005
    Thanks, you helped me greatly!
  12. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Glad to hear man!
  13. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Too late, all gone. LOL
  14. Definitely for the best. I can barely afford to eat, let alone buy a new bass! :D
  15. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Here's the bass exactly as I pulled it out of the Musician's Friend box. Haven't seen a new bass in a long time...

    Checking the label to make sure I got the right thing or something more expensive...

    Complete with manual, cable, and plenty of protective foam.

    Everything's still there... minus some of the protective foam.

    Beautiful bass if I do say so myself. I really dig the matching headstock on this one.

    Even the electronics are wired pretty neatly. Surprised at the quality for $199.
  16. Lackey


    May 10, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Nice. I really enjoy my Yammer - especially after installing Barts and taking out the stock preamp. Now I'm finishing up the Willis ramp.

    I first started considering them when I heard the bassist from the RCC band using a TRB5II - GREAT tone! Then I played one myself and loved it, found out that Richard Bona and Tom Kennedy endorsed them as well, then I found a used TRB6. I'm loving it!

    Good luck with that thing, I almost bought one but decided to go for the Carvin Bolt kit instead - ended up spending twice as much money, hope it'll come out nice.
  17. bigbeefdog

    bigbeefdog Who let the dogs in?

    Jul 7, 2003
    Mandeville, LA
    Only thing I can add - it's also a heck of a bass for upgrades. It's routed for standard Jazz pups (with the bridge pup slightly longer than the neck pup).

    My BB404 runs with a set of Dimarzio Model J's, and it's sweet.....
  18. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Thanks bigbeefdog... I was going to measure to check that my eyes were right but I can't find a dang ruler! But lo and behold, I really enjoy the sound of it stock!
  19. AldiMeola


    Feb 28, 2005
    Great review man. I'm glad I spotted the earlier thread and ordered one. All gone. Mine is coming tomorrow.